Republicans hold first baseball practice since last year’s shooting

Posted at 10:44 AM, Apr 25, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-25 12:44:47-04

In an instant on the morning of June 14, 2017, Republican lawmakers’ very normal baseball practice for the upcoming annual congressional baseball game was thrown into disarray when a man suddenly opened fire on the field, injuring several people on the field.

On Wednesday, nearly one year later, many of those same members of Congress took to the same field for their first practice since that day. 

Last year’s baseball practice shooting left four victims wounded — including Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., who recently completed his final surgery in a series of surgeries following the incident. Scalise, who is recovering from that final surgery, was not present Wednesday. Also injured less severely were U.S. Capitol Police officer Crystal Griner, aide Zack Barth, and lobbyist Matt Mika. The shooter, James Hodgkinson, was shot on the scene and died from his injuries. 

The annual congressional baseball game has been a partisan tradition in Congress for more than a century, pitting Republicans against Democrats. But last year, the shooting created — if only temporarily — a sense of bipartisan unity on Capitol Hill, in a highly partisan time. Last year’s game raised more than $1 million for charity, and set attendance records. 

Scalise called surviving a "miracle" in an interview with CBS News’ "60 Minutes" last year, and expressed hope that some of the unity generated by the tragedy would continue on Capitol Hill.

"Ultimately on some of these big issues, we’re not that far apart," he said at the time. "But when everybody goes into their separate corners, it’s just real easy to demonize the other side instead of saying, "OK, how can we come together and figure out how to get done what’s important for the country?" Hopefully this might have pulled us a little bit closer together. It’s easy for that to go away, but I would hope that we focus on how we can achieve some of those things that we haven’t been able to get done yet."

This year’s congressional baseball game is scheduled for June 14, one year to the day after the shooting, at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C.